Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: All is Forgiven, or: The Happy Consensus

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    what I lose in infrequency, I make up for in length =)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis,

    Nice work, Graeme ... and eminently sensible in content.

    However, if I may take on your usual commentary role and raise a small technical correction, this section isn't quite right:
    "Maybe the Greens will come out and say that there should be no political advertising on TV at all. Fine. That view’s defensible. It’s the law in the UK, and has been upheld by the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords as being proper in a democracy. But even though I wouldn’t go for it, all parties are treated the same, as all parties must be treated the same."

    True, the UK generally prohibits any form of political advertising on TV and radio (to an absurd degree - the House of Lords case involved an animal rights group who were stopped from running an ad calling for more rights for Great Apes because they were deemed to be "political" in their aims!). BUT there is an exception to this rule whereby the BBC and private licensees grant political parties a number of "Party Election Broadcasts" prior to each election ... which are by-and-large limited to the big parties represented in Parliament, with the larger parties getting more PEBs than smaller ones.

    In short, the UK has the same "unfair" allocation process we have here in NZ ... it's just that the PEBs are so few in number (last election the Tories and Labour got five each) and are so circumscribed in format (they have to be at least 3 minutes long) that they aren't really a factor in campaigning.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 205 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis,

    Oh ... and as for why NZ First didn't get a broadcast allocation in 1993, Bryce Edwards has this:
    "When New Zealand First was formed in 1993 it did not qualify for advertising in the election of that year because the party had neither existed for a year nor been ‘electorally tested’."
    http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2008/08/the-finances-of.html

    I assume he's referring to some test inserted into the Broadcasting Act 1989, which then would have been dropped once party registration came in post-1993.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 205 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    what I lose in infrequency, I make up for in length =)

    Thanks Graeme, I thought, succinct by my standards ;)
    Soo, basically it is a way to keep the smaller parties small?
    Are the greens growing beause of outside influence/ confusion like the Greenpeace Organisation?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Are the greens growing because of outside influence/ confusion like the Greenpeace Organisation?

    My guess is that there are people within the Green Party who fear that if parties are able to spend their own money on election broadcasting, that in some future election, ACT will have a lot of money, and will be able to out-spend (or at least spend to the same level as Labour and National) other parties. That this massive spending will get them lots of votes and they'll use their power/influence to embark on the second revolution.

    Or something like that.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    BUT there is an exception to this rule whereby the BBC and private licensees grant political parties a number of "Party Election Broadcasts" prior to each election ... which are by-and-large limited to the big parties represented in Parliament, with the larger parties getting more PEBs than smaller ones.

    Yes. I hoped to recognise this by referring to a ban on advertising. I assume they still have other party political broadcasts of this nature (i.e. outside election time)?

    Bryce Edwards has this ... I assume he's referring to some test inserted into the Broadcasting Act 1989, which then would have been dropped once party registration came in post-1993.

    I remember that too, just looking through the amendments to the Broadcasting Act at the time, I can't see where it is.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis,

    "I assume they still have other party political broadcasts of this nature (i.e. outside election time)?"

    Rules are here: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/ifi/guidance/ppbrules/ ... basically, all "major parties" get one broadcast each at the time of "key events in the political calendar, such as the Queen's Speech, the Budget and party conferences."

    But for the election, "the number of PEBs should be determined having regard to the circumstances of a particular election, the nation in which it is held, and the individual party's past and/or current electoral support in that nation"

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 205 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    My guess is that there are people within the Green Party who fear that if parties are able to spend their own money on election broadcasting, that in some future election, ACT will have a lot of money, and will be able to out-spend (or at least spend to the same level as Labour and National) other parties. That this massive spending will get them lots of votes and they'll use their power/influence to embark on the second revolution.

    There's definitely a need for a cap on broadcast spending - I don't think anyone wants to see saturation ads like US elections - but it needs to be the same for everyone (total cap, that is, public funding aside). Make it lower, if you like; but as much as I disagree with everything ACT is and stands for, they deserve to have the same opportunity to advertise as all other political parties.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Or something like that.

    Thinking about that perhaps also, the Greens, having once been considered radical are now looking more moderate because their core agenda has now become more moderate (climate change, sustainability) and their "people over profit" belief is actually sinking in to the uneasy swing voters?Plus Act would only screw that up with any extra influence/ability as they do. :)
    Still, An unfair advantage sounds wrong to me.
    Perhaps it could be lowered for the big Parties. That would seem more fair to the smaller ones, rather than always needing to raise the stakes to try to strangle, by large amounts of money.
    On that note,or something like that...

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I also suspect Twitter will be popular at the next Elections, as a means to circumvent.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    My guess is that there are people within the Green Party who fear that if parties are able to spend their own money on election broadcasting,

    okaaay...

    that in some future election,

    You mean, like, the next and subsequent elections?..

    ACT will have a lot of money,

    They already have more money relative to their popularity than anyone else, because their policies are designed to benefit the business sector and wealthy individuals. Hence, those groups are more likely to support Act with their considerable financial means; that's a no-brainer.

    and will be able to out-spend (or at least spend to the same level as Labour and National) other parties.

    Not necessarily; the question is whether their financial muscle would significantly outstrip proportionality, which it clearly would.

    That this massive spending will get them lots of votes

    Well, naturally. People don't just blow millions of dollars for no good reason. More spending helps to generate more votes, otherwise why do it?

    and they'll use their power/influence to embark on the second revolution.

    Basically, yes. They're entitled to whatever power and influence they can generate by fair and equitable campaigning. They are not, IMO, entitled to generate greater support than that simply by virtue of having greater financial resourses.

    Allowing that would distort democracy. We already have quite enough of a plutocracy, thank you, without encouraging it further.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    More spending helps to generate more votes, otherwise why do it?

    Because you think it generates votes, even though it doesn't.

    They're entitled to whatever power and influence they can generate by fair and equitable campaigning.

    I'm not pushing for unlimited campaign spending limits. I want the same spending limits applied to each party. I'd also be reasonably happy with a separate lower spending limit on broadcast advertising.

    But a system which say, National can spend $1m on TV and radio advertising, and Labour can spend $1m on TV and radio advertising, but ACT and the Greens are limited to $200k seems/is wrong.

    The idea that ACT (and the Greens) should do well in a couple of elections so that they can prove that they're worthy of telling us what their policies are to enable us to be informed about whether we want to vote for them is simply backward.

    If you are concerned about the influence money has on politics, then your solution will be found in changes to the donation laws, not lowering the spending limits of parties you don't like.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Because you think it generates votes, even though it doesn't.

    If you believe that, your entire column is pointless. :)

    If you are concerned about the influence money has on politics, then your solution will be found in changes to the donation laws, not lowering the spending limits of parties you don't like.

    That's true, as long as the limits are not prohibitively high.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    That's true, as long as the limits are not prohibitively high.

    Isn't it 2 million (for donations)now? I think that's prohibitively high, and others will think it's chump change. So how high is high?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    But do you think that, say, the Workers' Party ought be able to spend $500k or whatever the eventual average works out to?

    And I think that's a separate issue from the identity of the allocation and cap; I don't think that if the allocation & cap is inequitable it ought be replaced by a higher cap and yet not a higher allocation.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    There is no limit on donations.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    There is no limit on donations.

    Ah, of course, should have realised, for we did just donate Auckland to Rodney Hide.:)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • mic weevil,

    "More spending helps to generate more votes, otherwise why do it?"

    Like all advertising its not just about the money but the cleverness of it's application.

    In fact there is quite a large variation in the effectiveness of campaign spending. Although this table shows total spend rather than broadcast only - and at a glance (who can be bothered crunching numbers on a sunday?) it looks like the picture would be a bit different if broadcast only figures were used - it is obvious that there is no direct correlation of $ = votes. There is probably an inverse correlation at the lower end (no $ = no votes) which can be bent a bit with celebrity/stunts (a la Bill & Ben).

    It is certainly plain that the incumbents enjoy a huge advantage and the fact that these are the very people making the rules is certainly dodgy for democracy.

    auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • mic weevil,

    I think there are a lot more complex factors at play than just money, but that the rules around money are of extreme importance.

    The FPP hangover of the LabNats being considered the "main" parties may slowly erode as the generations change but will likely take generations. The current finance laws will only slow this process.

    auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    There's definitely a need for a cap on broadcast spending - I don't think anyone wants to see saturation ads like US elections - but it needs to be the same for everyone (total cap, that is, public funding aside). Make it lower, if you like; but as much as I disagree with everything ACT is and stands for, they deserve to have the same opportunity to advertise as all other political parties.

    Ditto.

    But do you think that, say, the Workers' Party ought be able to spend $500k or whatever the eventual average works out to?

    Yes. A level playing field means exactly that: all parties having the same broadcasting limit. At pesent, if the Worker's party is limited to spending a token sum (last election they were allowed $10,370). Meanwhile, National and Labour got to spend $1 million. And that is simply unfair.

    If Labour gets to spend $1 million on radioa nd TV advertising, everyone else should be too. Anything less is strapping the chicken.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1713 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Spend / Vote

    *declared advertising (not including candidate advertising) + costs of broadcasting paid for by the Electoral Commission.

    Only two parties beat the "big 5" in 2008.

    Bill & Ben acheived the cheapest vote of the top 16 parties (@ $0.92 per) by being the only party on the list to spend almost nothing ($3,777); ten times less than the next-place-getter, ALCP (22k @ $2.32 per); heavy media presense also helped.

    Excluding those two outliers, National (@ $3.04 per) comes in first, spending three-quarters of Labour's $4.10 per. In third place the Maori Party @ $7.77.

    The next ten places are all held by parties that spent between $10.00 & $15.00; these include, in order, NZ First, Greens, Family, United, Progressive, Kiwi, Act, Alliance, Workers, and Pacific.

    Of positions 4 to 16 (lowest spend / vote), only 3 parties spent more than $500,000 total; namely NZ First (1m; 6th), Act (1.2m; 12th), and Greens (1.7m, 7th).

    (Labour and National each spent 2.2m).

    Make of that what you will.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    strapping the chicken.

    Is that like spanking the monkey? Money makes the world go round.and I think Act are a good example. That's clever.Good debaters. Not that it's my scene.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Maybe by the stats 34 10 offers, just maybe we are diverse and so it will never be catastrophic. Phew! (wipes sweat alcohol induced)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Because you think it generates votes, even though it doesn't.

    the tobacco industry beckons

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Does anyone disagree about an equal spending cap for all parties? Apart from the 2 main beneficiaries?

    It does seem important that there should be a level playing field, but seriously I'm amazed that advertising has any effect at all on the vote outcomes. What kind of supermarket products you buy, sure, but what kind of government you'd like to have?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10647 posts Report Reply

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